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Avoid Costly Mistakes in the Litigation and Appellate Process

If a litigant is not careful, much time and resources may be wasted on technicalities. Assume, for example, you wish to appeal a case to the Utah Court of Appeals. The judge issued a ruling or the jury entered a verdict with which you disagree. It is axiomatic that a party may only appeal from a “final order.” If there are any remaining issues in the case left undecided by the trial court, the appellate court will not have jurisdiction. What is a “final order” from a technical standpoint?

The Utah Supreme Court has held that, in order to qualify as a “final order,” the paper drafted up by your Utah attorney needs to contain certain language. In Giusti v. Sterling Wentworth Corp., 2009 UT 2, 201 P.3d 966, the court held that if a trial court intends its ruling or order to be the final order of the court on that matter, it “must explicitly direct that no additional order is necessary.” Id. ¶ 32.  Unless the order includes this language, even if the order was intended to be final and there are no remaining issues, the appeal will be dismissed for lack of jurisdiction and the litigant must start the process all over again.

This technicality illustrates the importance of having skillful and experienced legal counsel assisting you throughout the litigation and appellate process with an eye for these details.

- Jonathan P. Wentz

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